At the Outfest Legacy Awards
Kicking it on the patio of the esteemed Directors Guild on Sunset Boulevard, waiting for the Outfest Legacy Awards to start, I notice actress Laura Linney mingling with assorted filmmakers, film lovers and supporters of Outfest, Los Angeles’ prestigious gay and lesbian film festival.
Laura is presenting the Legacy Award to the evening’s honoree, her good friend Alan Poul, TV and film producer (Tales of the City, Six Feet Under) and fervent LGBT advocate.
Laura looks lovely and relaxed, though her schedule doesn’t: “I just finished a film in Seattle called The Details, and I’m about to shoot a pilot for Showtime, then I’m going to do a play in New York,” she says, without a hint of exasperation.
Of course the New York stage is “home,” her father was a playwright and she basically grew up in the theater. She made her first small-screen splash, however, with Armistead Maupin’s controversial, gay-themed Tales of the City. While the show took some heat for depicting day-to-day queer-ities on Barbary Lane, Laura recalls it as “a huge privilege and a big joy,” noting that many of the people she worked with “became lifelong friends,” including Poul.
She also works for an organization that supports gay marriage in her home state of Connecticut. I ask if she’s ever actually been to a gay wedding. “Yes, yes!” she gasps. “Armistead’s marriage; I was the maid of honor!”
I meander over to director Jamie Babbit. It’s admirable how Jamie is an out filmmaker who manages a steady stream of mainstream work (currently United States of Tara with Toni Collette), yet keeps cranking out poignant queer stories on film (But I’m a Cheerleader, Itty Bitty Titty Committee) and supports gay and lesbian visibility, all while raising two children.
Now she has another baby on the way—a film project called Breaking the Girl—that is set to start shooting in January 2010 in Montreal. It’s “a bisexual thriller written by Guinevere Turner,” says Jamie. She describes the stars as “three super-hot girls in their 20s,” including Amanda Crew (Whistler) and Adrianne Palick (Friday Night Lights).
But this night is all about preserving and establishing LGBT film history.
“It’s a partnership between Outfest and UCLA,” explains Jenni Olson, co-founder of PlanetOut, a film historian and Legacy Project advisory board member. “UCLA has the expertise in film preservation and Outfest has the expertise in LGBT film.” She adds that Jamie is among the filmmakers who’ve taken the time to donate their films to the project, and they’re looking for more.
“It doesn’t require money, it just requires time,” Jamie assures.
As I approach Kirsten Schaffer, executive director of Outfest, it’s obvious that she’s expecting. “I am,” she says beaming (and insists that it wasn’t intentionally timed to occur between Outfests 2009 and 2010). “The Legacy Project is really close to my heart,” says the mom-to-be, “because it is really one of the most important things that Outfest does. As an organization, we’re protecting our LGBT history and providing an archive for future generations, so that they can know who they are, where they’ve come from and that they’re part of a community.”
Community is good; but is it just a coincidence that the three lesbians mentioned above are or will be mothers? I avoid the water the rest of the night.